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Newton Citizen Poll 8/9/2008

"On Election Day I too was at the Newton County Commissioners meeting where the commissioners voted 5 to 0 to approve rezoning for two strip malls in the western part of the county. I also was at the earlier Voter's League Forum when the candidates, including incumbents, were asked how they would improve the traffic congestion in the western part of the county. Most replied that it was the state who had to pay for improvements to state roads and the state funds were slow at coming in. Then the commissioners voted to rezone for these large strip malls, one on Almon Road of over 80,000 square feet, to dump more traffic onto our overcrowded streets. Guess what commissioners? With the high energy costs and poor economy, taxpayers in the rest of the state are hurting the same as we are, and state highway funds will continue to come in slow. Why don't you freeze rezoning until the roads can be improved and traffic congestion improved? What good is a Comprehensive Land Use Plan when you rezone every two weeks anyway?"

"This is a comment concerning the grant given to the GWF for cleanup of an area of the Alcovy River that was written by Crystal Tatum in the 7/31 Citizen. It is great to see a positive environmental story come out in a paper in Newton County. Hoping more will come out in the future as Newton County continues to grow. Newton County is very fortunate to have three rivers flowing within its borders. Hopefully, environmental issues brought out in the open will educate the citizens on the importance of protecting the streams for our children and grandchildren as well as the wildlife they serve as home for."

"Concerned citizens of Newton County, did you notice that during the recent election campaign that none of the incumbents mentioned plans for the proposed civic building? Can you guess why? They knew this is a controversial matter and they didn't want it to ruin their chances of getting reelected. Now all of a sudden it's in the news again. We do not need another big occasional use building cluttering up the area. No parking space as it is! What about 'green space?' Call your commissioner and let them know that you don't want another tax burden just to serve a few special interest groups."

"My comments concern Turner Lake Park and how it has deteriorated. The park was originally built as a creation and nature park for the citizens of Newton County. Currently, virtually no one uses the observation decks, nature trails or the nature classrooms. They are deserted with trash and debris. Rats can now be seen feeding with squirrels around the pavilion. You can see more walkers and joggers on Conyers Street in Covington in one hour than are seen at Turner Lake in a week. Homeless men now routinely sleep in the park at night. For years Newton County civic groups, churches, Scouts, etc. have been denied the use of the ball fields on the weekends. This act alone has probably driven thousands of Newton County citizens from the park. They are told the parks are reserved for out-of-town teams. These out-of-town teams are rude, trash and damage the park, and injure the ducks. The trashing of the Covington Square by these teams on Friday is an example. On Saturday morning, the Square looked worse than I have ever seen it in my lifetime. The wooded part of Turner Lake should be sold to a developer and the ball fields deeded to something like Main Street for tourism and relieve the taxpayers from supporting it. The whole Recreation Department has evolved into a type of oxymoron. Newton County children are allowed to play sports Monday through Thursday on school nights, and any school teacher will tell you that most of them don't do their homework. No wonder Newton County schools are a miserable failure."

"This may be off topic, but I feel that it really needs to be known. There still are good decent people in this world. God's angels are still vigilant. My wife was running an errand for me today, having our two young children, her friend and her friend's young child with her. As she arrived at her destination she noticed that her car was running extremely hot. She concluded her business and called me to come rescue her. The only problem was, I was at work and it would take me at least an hour and a half to get to her. Another patron of the business she was at, identified only as 'Mike Holmes' noticed she was having trouble and stopped to assist her. Even though Mr. Holmes had his elderly aunt with him and the temperature was in the mid 90s, he still offered to help. He checked her car out and found that she had a busted heater hose. He offered to follow her to the Honda dealership where his friend worked, but she told him we had no money for repairs and that I would be on my way. He insisted and told her that if the repairs would only be $10 or so, he would pay for it. He put water in the radiator and she followed him. In no time the people of Conyers Honda had her car on the rack and my family was waiting comfortably in the air conditioning. Mr. Holmes personally paid a considerable amount more than '$10' for the repairs, and my family was back on the road in no time and safely at home. Only after dropping her friend off at home did my wife learn how much the repair cost. Mr. Holmes, I pray that you are reading this. I wish to thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for the kindness, generosity and concern that you showed to my family in their time of distress. Most people would have turned their head and walked on by, but you cared about the situation two women and three children were faced with. Thanks to you my family avoided peril in the hot summer heat and was afforded the opportunity to safely and quickly return home. May God bless you and give you all the things you deserve. I wish there was some way for me to repay your kindness. But for now, thank you!"

"Oh what a shame. Only one day with a small amount of sports coverage of The Dixie Boys World Series. We really thought the Newton Citizen would have given big coverage. Wake-up, sports department. There has been alot of revenue brought from this event. I guess your sports department did not need it. Shame shame. You sure missed a great chance to get coverage from 11 different states. We will still read your paper."

Editor's Note: The Citizen covered the tournament from the angle of its economic impact. The decision was made to focus our sports coverage on events involving and affecting area residents, rather than covering baseball games featuring teams that were not from here. Look in today's sports section for our wrap-up coverage of the tournament.

"Talk about recycling! Our Goodwill is an awesome place to start. Kids clothing, books, etc. are at an excellent price. Your purchase also helps people in need. It's a win-win not to mention .... excellent form of recycling!"

"Well, it is happening. I attended the joint meeting last night of the Covington City Council and the Newton Commission. It was a full house, standing room only. The means of funding by use of bonds, etc. and the way we can raise motel-hotel excise taxes to cover expenses was discussed, voted on, and passed. The audience was given 10 minutes to discuss pro or con to the whole project. Not much time for $2 million to be decided on. Regardless, of such, several items were discussed. Let me say right off, I am very much in favor of a civic center. I, and many more I have talked to, have some serious reservations whether this is being done right for the following. 1. As mentioned, parking and traffic will be a nightmare. Downtown Covington is very congested now. Bring this downtown and it gets worse. Sure, AT&T says they will give some space. That still leaves many cars looking for space. A new parking deck may ease some of the parking problem, but not congestion through the Square. Revitalizing the Square ... that happens when we get shops, restaurants, and fun places to go on the Square, not lawyers' offices, real estate offices, etc., not by building a civic center. 2. Money. $23 million (if that is the final tally) is an awful lot of money for 1,200 seats. Has anyone thought what and who we can host in the new civic center ... I envisioned concerts, church events, conventions, as the SKC rep mentioned, and lo and behold graduations. Twelve-hundred seats will not allow that to happen. Ten years, think of the growth here, and how we will need more space. As for concerts, they cost money. You get what you pay for. Twelve-hundred seats at how much a ticket costs, plus maybe a sponsor fee or two, equals, who will come to entertain. A minimum of 2,000 seats is more reasonable 3. Who owns the land around? Why are we deadset on doing this in the little space discussed? Who is going to benefit from building it by the tracks connected to the hotel? Has anybody considered the old Wal-Mart site on (U.S.) Hwy. 278 or the acres the city owns by the airport? It's not too late. I hope that 10 years down the road we aren't saying, if only it was larger."

Twenty-five million dollars. Twenty-five million dollars by our local government to build a civic center/hotel that they have no business dabbling in what should be handled by the private sector. I've been calling the county for four years to try and get a speed limit sign put in my neighborhood to try and curtail the speeders that fly through our neighborhood in speeds ranging 60 to 80 mph but "the county does not have it in the budget" for a speed limit sign. I sit in traffic every day for 10 to 15 minutes each way for the longest part of my commute at the intersection of Ga. 20/212/Brown Bridge and nothing is being done with this intersection either, but there is $25 million available for a civic center that will probably draw the likes of marquee acts like Warrant, Night Ranger, and Kriss Kross?

"I am calling about the back-to-school block party that was held on the Covington Square on Saturday, July 26. This event was supposed to furnish school supplies for children returning to school. This whole endeavor seemed to be a total disaster, few children seem to get supplies and those who did get a few items were not worth the value of gas to get them to the Square. Many parents and students waited hours in line only to be told 'there were no supplies for them or their grades were not covered.' This event seemed to be staged by downtown merchants who use the term 'free school supplies' as bait to draw a large crowd. Children should not be used as pawns in a publicity stunt."

"Clements Middle School is the school my child should be going to, but because Clements has not passed the AYP for five years, my child is going to another middle school. Why is this continually happening? Why haven't measures been taken so that Clements passes? Who is at fault? Does there need to be a different curriculum? A new principal, more training for teachers? Has the Board of Education looked into this? I want answers. This year, several other schools have not passed. I am very concerned about the education process in Newton County. It needs improvement so that our children will be provided with quality education."

"My comment is about cleaning our streets. I am your Porterdale neighbor and let's all band together and clean up our streets. We are not stupid and we know what is going on and so does the law enforcement. Two particular streets are busy, busy. All they do is stop and leave. They are so open, they have no worries about what they do. Let's get the mayor, the City Council and law enforcement to help us. I am sure people in Porterdale would appreciate it and feel much safer."

"Have you gotten your property tax bill yet from the tax commissioner? I have, and it seems as if I do not pay on time I will have a penalty. Why is it that some in this county do not pay on time and still do not pay a late penalty? Guess I don't belong to the elite group in town. I am just a hard-working, middle class person trying to survive, and if I do not pay my taxes on time, they will politely take my house away."

"Welcome to Covington, y'all. Visitors from many states came to our beautiful city for the Dixie Boys baseball tournament. I know that during their free time they enjoyed the use of our marvelous movie theater, bowling alley and all of the other entertainment facilities. I also know that they did have a place to sleep and wait till next time if we are fortunate enough to have a next time there will really be an abundance of places to sleep if it is left up to our city and county officials, and, oh yes, and they might can even visit our civic center. Our Square is a lovely place, but do you really think it is large enough to accommodate all the people that came here for the tournament? There were not enough receptacles for all the trash, and guess where it landed. Yep, like knee-deep and bathrooms Ha ... Hats off to Tommy Hailey and hard-working people at City Pond for getting this marvelous youth event for our city. Can't we at least see to it that these spectacular athletes, their families and friends have a recreational outlet before and after the games. And by the way, it wouldn't be such a bad idea to have a movie theater, a skating rink, a bowling alley etc. for our permanent residents. We have to spend our money somewhere else."

"I live on Lakeview Drive. There has been several times that I have seen this white truck speeding. Someone needs to let him know the speed limit is only 45. I bet he was going all of 60, and wouldn't you know, no police man around."

"We need a Publix in Covington. A nice new grocery store. We also need a new Burger King."

"Thank you to whoever smashed our mailbox in the RiverBrook Farm subdivision on Friday, Aug. 1. My husband is retired and this will give him a project this week. I guess we are grateful that you didn't hit a member of the opposite sex or a small animal - instead took you aggression out on our mailbox. Really appreciate it."

I am concerned about some of the fire services in Newton County. I was driving down Ga. 81 through Oxford Monday morning around eight o'clock and I got passed by a deputy and several fire trucks. I later found out there was a fire out in my neighborhood (on) Duncan Road. It burned that place pretty badly. These fire trucks were coming from Flat Shoals Road where they got a fire station with people in it all the time. There was a fire station called North Newton just around the corner from this place. They tell me they have people there during the day time - well they must not have. This place is pretty much destroyed and we didn't have any people nearby to attend that fire. I know North Newton has been a volunteer operation, but they told me they had people there in the day time because they couldn't depend on volunteers because they would be at work and it would take a long time to get to the fire. We have a lot of people in the county now and we pay some pretty high taxes, and it is time we have a regular fire crew there all the time. I noticed when I rode by that station the next day there weren't any pick-up trucks or cars sitting there. I think folks ought to remember that when they vote."

"I am very disappointed in (a local restaurant) after they had volunteered to be a participant in the summer reading program through the library in Newton County. They denied the little free kids meals that they were giving out as rewards for so many hours of reading. We went to use our rewards and we were denied, said they were not doing that anymore. I find that very disturbing that they volunteered to be a participant and then decided to renege on that and I will not be eating at (this restaurant). They have lost my business."

"I called earlier to make a complaint about (a local restaurant) and I am calling to say that they have promptly corrected the problem and made good on the coupons that we received from the library, and I am very impressed with how quickly (this restaurant) took care of this and handled it very professionally."

"I am calling in regards to John McCain bashing Obama and Obama bashing John McCain. We are not interested in them bashing each other; we are interested in what they are going to do for the country, the economy, the health care. We need to know what they are going to do, not what each other has done but what they plan to do in the future."

I would like to comment about the article on the first day of school. Newton County transportation is a joke. They are flat lying when they say they are doing the best they can. For one whole week and a half I have called every day to Newton County transportation - the phone has been out of order. The first day of school, my children's school, which is Veterans Memorial, try to get them to get information about their bus cause, by the way, I had to take them because no bus ever showed up. They ride a special education bus which is a great problem in Newton County. I called the Board of Education and I talked with the person who handles transportation for special ed. She called all day and could not get through because of the phone is, as you guess, out of order. When my children arrived home after 4:30 Friday afternoon, the bus driver told my daughter she would be picked up at 8 Monday morning. School takes in at 8:30. There are four stops between my house. When they finally get to Veterans Memorial, both of my children have to have breakfast at school and medication before they go to class. I know we could do better than this. My children being in Resource is no reason they should be denied their right. They have the same rights as the children who are in mainstream. My children are mainstream for some classes. They have a right to be there on time and eat breakfast and get to class just like any other child. This right has been denied them. As far as the AYP thing, our children are always blamed. Those who are disadvantaged or those who have special needs."

"I do not understand why the Newton Citizen did not cover the Dixie Boys World Series that was held in Covington. You do have a sports department at the paper don't you? This was a big deal for Newton County and it is a shame that I had to read the Covington News to get the coverage of all the games ....."

Editor's Note: Please see previous Editor's Note.

"Well - I thought Newton County finally began progressing forward. I can remember when you bought your car tag and paid your taxes, they would not accept a personal check if your bank was outside Newton County. I don't know how many times I had to go to Sun Trust Bank in Conyers to cash a check and come back to Covington to pay for my tags and taxes. Finally, they saw the light of day and started accepting personal checks from banks that were not inside Newton County. Then, last year when I went to the new municipal building to purchase tags and pay property taxes, there were signs posted there was a $10 surcharge if paying by credit card or debit card. Of course, people didn't find that out until they got there. Now, this year, they have signs indicating they no longer accept credit card or debit cards. What kind of rinky dink outfit is this anyway? Lil Abner don't live on the corner no more!"